Online Lessons

Imagine being able to take music lessons in the comfort of your own home, even in your pajamas if you want to. Now it's possible!

 

 

What Do I Need?

To take online lessons, you just need a few things that many people already have in their homes:

  • High-speed internet connection (broadband is best, but other connections may also work). Click here for specific bandwidth recommendations. 
  • Dependable computer that can be set up near your instrument, with either a Windows XP or above, or Mac OS X 10.6 or above, operating system, or a smartphone, tablet, Xbox, smart TV, or other device with an internet connection. Smartphones are not recommended for online lessons because the small screens make it difficult to see the level of detail needed during lessons. 
  • Webcam. Most laptop computers have built-in webcams, and external webcams are very inexpensive. If you do not already have a webcam, it is best to get one that is at least 3 MP. Webcams are built in to most smartphones and tablets. 
  • Microphone. Many webcams and laptop computers have built-in microphones, which will work fine for most students. Click here for a good external microphone that doesn't distort sound when music is played. Please do not use a headset as your only microphone. Microphones are built into most smartphones and tablets. 
  • Skype or Facetime. This is how we will hear and see each other during online lessons. Skype is free and easy to set up, and Facetime is already downloaded on your Mac or iOS device. To get Skype, go to www.skype.com.
  • Paypal account, credit card, or debit card. Payment can be made through this website via Paypal. Paypal accounts are free and easy to set up. To sign up for a Paypal account, go to www.paypal.com. If you would rather not use Paypal, you can pay directly with your credit or debit card using my Square store. 
  • A quiet environment during lessons. An environment with a lot going on in the background will create many distractions and frustrations for both the student and teacher.
  • Headphones may be helpful, but are not required. These will eliminate any "echo" that happens as the microphone picks up the sound coming out of your speakers.

 

Not sure if online lessons will work for you? Contact me to schedule a free, no-obligation trial lesson to find out! 

Note: Please be sure to specify your time zone when inquiring about lessons. 

 

 

Who Can Take Online Lessons?

Students of piano, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, flute, recorder, or music theory who are 8 years old or older can easily take online lessons. Students younger than 8 years old are also welcome to take lessons but will need parental supervision during the entire lesson. For information on who can take lessons on a specific instrument, go to the About Lessons page. Group lessons are also available. These may be helpful for an entire woodwind section in a school band, a homeschool group with several children who want to learn the same instrument (such as recorder), a few friends who want to learn an instrument together, or a woodwind chamber group that needs some coaching. Contact me with questions about group lessons. 

 

Scheduling and Payment

Openings for online lessons are flexible and available upon request. Lesson times will be discussed once prospective students contact the teacher, and scheduled at a time that works for both the teacher and student. A general list of openings is available on the Calendar page. All lessons are scheduled according to the central time zone. Online students will register and create an account on the website, and all lessons will be scheduled on the calendar that is visible once the student has logged in. Payments may be made through the website via Paypal, either weekly or monthly. For more information on payment policies, visit the Rate and Policies page. Online students may find and purchase their own method books and other lesson materials, or arrange with the teacher to have materials sent to them prior to the first lesson (depending on location). Students must have the required materials before the first lesson, and they should communicate with the teacher before purchasing materials to make sure they buy the correct materials. 

 

 

How are Online Lessons Different From In-person Lessons? Pros and Cons

Similarities

  • Both are one-on-one with a private instructor
  • The teacher and student can see and hear each other with online lessons, just like in-person lessons
  • Lessons follow a similar format

 

Good Things About Online Lessons

  • No geographic limitations. The student and teacher can live anywhere, even different countries, as long as they have internet connections and speak the same language. Becky has had students who live over 5,000 miles away from her.
  • Students don't have to leave their homes for their lessons. Students are often more comfortable in their own homes, and the time and costs of driving are eliminated.
  • More flexible scheduling. This is useful for students with variable schedules. Flexible scheduling also makes rescheduling canceled lessons easier.
  • Fewer canceled lessons due to illness. Many times when a student or teacher is sick, they cancel the lesson not because they're too sick to concentrate, but because they don't want to pass their illness on to anyone else. With online lessons, this is not a concern. Sometimes in-person lessons are canceled because the parent of a child student is too sick to bring the child to the lesson; with online lessons, the parent can stay home and the child can still have a lesson.
  • During piano lessons, the teacher can see and hear the student's piano. Most piano teachers teach lessons from their homes or from a studio, so they never get to see or hear the instrument that the student is playing at home. Being able to see and hear the student's piano will help the teacher to tell if the instrument is suitable for the student, troubleshoot instrument problems, and determine whether problems with the student's instrument are creating playing difficulties.
  • Online lessons may be better than in-person lessons for students with certain disabilities or medical conditions. Some students with physical disabilities find it difficult to travel even short distances, and many teachers' homes and studios may not be wheelchair accessible. Students who have severe allergies won't need to be risk being exposed to allergens, and students who are immune compromised won't need to worry about being exposed to germs. Students with attention difficulties, sensory processing disorders, or autism may be more comfortable and learn better in their own homes without extra distractions.
  • The technological limitations of online lessons can promote creativity and problem solving for both students and teacher. Many of the obstacles encountered in online lessons can be overcome or worked around, and the students and teacher can work together to find solutions to problems.
  • Teachers and students who live far away from each other have an opportunity to learn about each other's areas. This creates opportunities for learning about several different aspects of another part of the country or world, including geographic and cultural aspects. 
  • The student or teacher can move to a new area without interrupting lessons. With in-person lessons moving would mean the student would need to find a new teacher, but with online lessons, the lessons can continue anywhere that there is a good internet connection.

 

Challenges of Online Lessons

  • Duets and live piano accompaniments are difficult or impossible.  Time delays and sound problems make it difficult for the teacher and student to play at the same time. Instead, the teacher can record duet parts and accompaniments and send them to the student, or the student may be able to find a local accompanist or duet partner.
  • It's difficult for students to borrow materials from the teacher. Students may have to buy an occasional extra book because of this, which will build their music library but can be costly. Whenever possible, free public domain online sheet music, or the teacher's own arrangements, will be used to keep costs down for both the teacher and student.
  • Technology occasionally creates problems. Internet connections can go down, equipment can fail, and other unavoidable problems can arise and prevent lessons from time to time. With in-person lessons this isn't a problem, but vehicle breakdowns or bad weather can make it impossible for a student or teacher to get to a lesson. The increased flexibility in scheduling with online lessons makes it easier to reschedule a lesson that was missed due to technological problems.
  • The teacher can't physically examine or test a woodwind student's instrument or reed. This may be inconvenient, but a local band director may be willing to do this, and most music stores and instrument repair shops will evaluate an instrument for free. Many reed problems can be figured out and addressed by listening to the student or having the student try a different reed. In many cases Becky can help a student figure out why their instrument is not working by asking questions and having the student try different things. 
  • Not everyone owns the proper equipment for online lessons. Webcams and microphones are very inexpensive, making them easily obtainable for most students. Students who would need to upgrade their computer or internet connections to take online lessons will have to carefully consider all of their options when deciding whether to take online lessons.
  • The teacher may not be familiar with musical resources or performance opportunities in a student's area. Both the teacher and student can do some research to look for resources, and many music teachers have connections with other music teachers and may be able to connect with someone who can provide them with the information they need.
  • Young children and students with attention and/or hyperactivity difficulties may not stay on task or focus as well without the teacher right next to them. For these students' lessons, the parents must be present and involved with the lesson so they can help redirect the student when necessary. This will be addressed on an individual, case-by-case basis.
  • Students who live far away from the teacher can't be physically present at studio recitals. There are many alternatives to this, including having the student find local performance opportunities, and recording a video to play at a recital or post online, or using Skype to give a "live" performance at a studio recital. This will be discussed as needed.
  • Piano students won't have the benefit of playing and adjusting to the teacher's piano. It's important for students to learn to play and adjust to different pianos because pianists can't usually take their pianos with them, and no two pianos are exactly alike. Many churches and schools are willing to let students "try out" or practice on their pianos to get this experience.

 

Not sure if online lessons will work for you? Contact me to schedule a free, no-obligation trial lesson to find out! 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to begin lessons? E-mail me using the Contact page or call me at 715-220-2391.

 

 

 

Can't afford lessons? If your family is currently on the free or reduced school lunch program, you may be eligible for Music Link, an organization that provides full or partial scholarships for lessons and free or discounted music and instruments. To learn more, contact me. Home school families and adults may also be eligible.